A simple project

Now that the pond project is finished for the year, I can "relax" a little bit and do some easy tasks. Pretty much everything I'll be doing in the yard in the next few weeks will be related to overwintering, helping plants make it through the winter. For the last two years I've had the temporary greenhouse, but I've decided not to bother with it this year. Not that it matters for today's post, so I'm not sure why I mentioned it now.

I've already brought most of my tropicals and non-hardy plants into the garage -- the ones left outside are "extras" that I just don't have room for. So today a simple project: protect my hardy banana.


I haven't grown this before, so overwintering it is new for me. I've been assured that it's cold-hardy here, as long as it's well-mulched.

Since I received this Musa basjoo late in the season, it didn't have time to become established in the ground. So I had no problems digging it up (it was in the way of my pond) and putting it into a temporary spot for the winter.

The foliage was killed when the temperature got below freezing, but that's to be expected:

The stem (or more properly "pseudostem") is fine though, and part of it may actually survive the winter if mulched heavily. You can see that besides the two large pseudostems there are a few smaller "pups" here too -- this plant suckers quite readily forming a nice clump of plants:

As you can see from previous photos I've put a cage around the plant, and I'll fill it with leaves to a depth of 2 or 3 feet:

I'm told this will be enough to protect the underground corm and possibly the bottom of the pseudostem through our cold winters, and the plant will emerge as good as new once it warms up. Just in case it doesn't make it though, I've got one of the larger pups potted up and safe in the garage. I like having a backup, especially for plants that I'm not too familiar with.

Remember the banana plants I saw at the Missouri Botanical Garden, in the Chinese Garden? 

I wondered at the time why there were bananas in that garden, but it turns out they are Musa basjoo (which is native to Asia). From the MOBOT website:
The hardy banana (Musa basjoo) does very well locally. We have had some planted in the ground in our Chinese Garden here at Missouri Botanical Garden for many years. Outdoor plantings at the St. Louis Zoo predate ours by several years. We cut the stalks back to ground level every fall before frost and heap about 2 feet of mulch over them for winter.
Those plants were at least 10' (3m) tall, probably a bit more. Something to look forward to!

I guess I'll have to find a good, permanent spot for these in the spring.

Edit: I forgot to say: isn't that a beautiful bamboo in the left side of the first and last photos? It's Indocalamus sp. 'Solidus', and is one of my favorites. Looking forward to seeing how it handles the winter.


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Christine @ the Gardening Blog  – (November 30, 2011 at 7:29 AM)  

I have such respect and admiration for gardeners that have to go to such great lengths to overwinter plants and to protect their gardens from freezing winter temperatures. Posts like these make me realise just how easy we have it here.

The Musa basjoo in the photo at MOBOT looks stunning - I can see why you would want a back up plant of this one.

Gerhard Bock (Succulents and More)  – (November 30, 2011 at 11:24 AM)  

Alan, I think your Musa basjoo will be just fine. I can't wait to see it next year in all its glory.

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